Saint John Chapter Four Review

The Gospel According to St John: John Chapter Four: Please open the following link to read chapter four: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/john/4?lang=eng 

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(Image source:clcfremont.org)

At this point in John’s record, Jesus’s disciples were baptizing more people than John’s. As the Pharisees became aware of this, it further put Jesus’s safety in danger.

As Jesus traveled through Samaria, he encountered the Woman at the Well (Jacob’s Well). Surely Jesus is the One who renews us and gives us life. He is as a well of water that will never run dry (See vs. 6-15).

Jesus knows all of us. He knew the woman’s history. It doesn’t matter so much where we’ve been as where we decide to travel now. It doesn’t matter so much where we worship as how we worship. “True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (vs. 23). It doesn’t matter so much who we are currently as who He is and whom He can help us become. Jesus declared to the woman that He is the Christ (See vs. 16-26).

At this point, Jesus’s disciples came on the scene. They’d returned from buying food. The woman left to bring back an audience (See vs. 27-30).

The disciples bade Jesus to eat. Just as He had told the woman that He is the Water of Life, He then told His disciples that He is the Bread of Life. Our we not all spiritually fed when we do God’s will? He indeed is the Bread of Life. (See vs.31-34).

Jesus came to do His Father’s work. What is God’s work? “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Jesus’s disciples are also called to this work: to bring souls unto Him and to extend to them an invitation to partake of salvation and exaltation (See vs. 34-38).

Many Samaritans believed on Jesus because of the woman’s testimony. They then listened to Jesus and gained a personal conviction that Jesus is the Christ (See vs. 39-42).

Jesus returned to Galilee (See vs. 43-45).

Jesus healed a nobleman’s son. This father wanted Jesus to come with him to his son to heal Him, but Jesus required that the man exercise faith to believe his son would be healed without witnessing the miracle (See vs. 46-54). How important is it for us to be believing without seeing? Do we trust that God’s words will come to pass, in His time and in His way? Do we exercise our faith in Jesus Christ and in His mission to heal and to save us?

Saint John 1 Reflections

The Gospel According to St John: John Chapter One: Please open the following link to read chapter one: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/john/1?lang=eng

In verses 1 through 14, John testifies of Jesus Christ’s divinity:

Jesus is the Word of God;

Jesus created all things;

Jesus gave us life;

Jesus is the Light that is in all things;

His Light is in us.

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In verse six, John the Beloved tells us that John the Baptist came as a forerunner and witness of Jesus Christ. In verse nine, we read that Jesus is the true Light and all of us are born with the Light of Christ. In verse ten, we find out the Jesus created the world, came to the world, and He was not recognized as the Creator. Verses twelve and thirteen are very comforting, because here we come to understand that if we will believe on Jesus Christ and receive Him as our Lord and Savior, He will give us power to become the sons and daughters of God and gain an everlasting inheritance with Him. We need to be born again unto God by accepting the gospel and doing His will. We do this through our faith in Jesus Christ, repentance of our sins, baptism by immersion by proper priesthood authority, and then receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begottenof the Father,) full of grace and truth” (vs. 14).

The Joseph Smith Translation of John Chapter One provides even more clarity to these insights. You can read that account here: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/jst/jst-john/1

John further testifies of Jesus in verses 15-18:

Jesus was before all of us;

He is the First Born of all of Heavenly Father’s spirit children;

He is like unto God the Father.

In verse nineteen we find that John gave the aforementioned witness to those messengers of the priests and Levites (and Pharisees) whom the Jews sent from Jerusalem to inquire of John, “Who art thou?

And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, “I am not the Christ (vs. 20).

He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias” (vs. 23).

The Pharisees went on to ask why John baptized in the name of Christ. John used this opportunity to testify of Him. “I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” (vs. 26-27).

The very next day, Jesus Himself came to John to be baptized. When John saw Jesus approaching, He said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me” (vs. 29-30).

John was told prior to this that he would receive a sign as a witness of the Savior. And he bore record, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him” (vs. 32). Then John bore record that Jesus is the Son of God (vs. 34). “Behold the Lamb of God” (vs 36)!

John pointed his disciples to Jesus. Andrew had been a disciple of John. When John told him that Jesus was the Son of God, Andrew then followed Jesus. Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus. Later Peter became Jesus’s senior apostle. May believed and were called to follow Jesus.

Many believe and are called to follow Jesus still. If we search the scriptures, we will find the testimonies of many prophets besides John. They have introduced us to Jesus. Have we heard His voice, believed in Him, and accepted His call to “Come, Follow Me?”

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of Him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That He lives!

For we saw Him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that He is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by Him, and through Him, and of Him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon; Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24).

How does your understanding of Jesus as Lord and Savior influence you from day to day?

A Time for Reflection

Today while reading in Matthew Chapter 21,
I couldn’t help but think of the following song when I pictured Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem:

  Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;
Things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here;
Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea,
Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

First let me hear how the children stood round His knee,
And I shall fancy His blessing resting on me;
Words full of kindness, deeds full of grace,
All in the love light of Jesus’ face.

Tell me, in accents of wonder, how rolled the sea,
Tossing the boat in a tempest on Galilee;
And how the Maker, ready and kind,
Chided the billows, and hushed the wind.

Into the city I’d follow the children’s band,
Waving a branch of the palm tree high in my hand;
One of His heralds, yes, I would sing
Loudest hosannas, “Jesus is King!”

Show me that scene in the garden, of bitter pain;
Show me the cross where my Savior for me was slain;
Sad ones or bright ones, so that they be
Stories of Jesus—tell them to me.

Words: W. H. Parker; Music: Frederic A. Challinor

20 Childrens Band (Insert post)

This was one of my favorite Primary songs as a child, and it remains so.

“Into the city I’d follow the children’s band.”

I am thankful for the choice I’ve made to read the New Testament this year. It has been nearly three weeks, and I can honestly say that I love the Savior more and His Spirit is with me more. I would encourage everyone to begin his or her own personal study. You will gain more in that way, in studying the scriptures for yourself, than by reading anyone else’s words. I will continue to write this blog, but I know that there are things that I’ll gain that I cannot pass on to any reader. I write this in sincere humility and gratitude, not in a boastful manner; because, the Lord is ready to hear us all. When we ask, He will answer; when we seek, we will find; when we knock, He will open the door unto us.

Yesterday my husband and I conversed about a sacrament meeting that we attended. The main speaker was a humble man with a simple, profound message that really touched our hearts. But, there was any extra ten minutes or so left to the normal conclusion time of that the meeting, and another good man filled in that time. Even though he had a good message and a good personal style, and even though he has a great love for the Lord, his message detracted from the spirit of the meeting which had been set by the sweetness of that message which preceded his. At least it did for us.

My husband said that he thought that the last speaker may have shared things that he acquired through personal study that were only meant for him and not for the congregation. I’m not sure if that is so or not. I think he had a great message, and he delivered a good talk. There just was a stark contrast between the two, in my opinion. (But we never know who else is in tune to be touched by the message of one and who is in tune to be touched by the message of another.) But what my husband said caused me to think further about what I share and if I am too eager in my desire to share the gospel that sometimes I share more than the Spirit would have me share.

While we were talking together, I told my husband how I felt like I should do this blog for many reasons: first, it will make me stick to a gospel study schedule and be accountable to read and write each day; second, if I can help others in this journey and help them feel of our Savior’s love for them, my extra effort in writing down my thoughts and impressions will be so worth it (especially if others are encouraged to study for themselves); third, I believe that one of my gifts is discernment and another is writing, and this gives me an opportunity to work on my gifts as I gain more knowledge about my Savior and as I seek to serve Him through the talents He has given me.

I told my husband though, that if there were things that were private that I shouldn’t share, that I would withhold those things from being uploaded to this blog. Last night, the Spirit held me to that. The sweetness of His presence is always incredible and full of love; but, it still was a challenge for me to omit sections of what I wrote, so as not to be an offense to Him and to build a trusting relationship between us.

So my focus may change in writing this blog. I am grateful to the few who have read and made comments; especially those who have expressed that they have stepped up in their own study. That’s really what we need to encourage each other to do.

We live in a world where we want recognition; we seek praise and the favor of men all too often. But our Lord ever tells us that it is our humility, our submissiveness, and our willingness to bend to our Father’s will that will add glory to Him in perfect praise and deliver us from this sorrowful realm into a much more glorious existence with Him. The Greatest of all submitted perfectly to His Father’s will and became the servant of all. So to become like Him, we need to cast aside our desires for self-promotion and seek to be like Him, submitting ourselves ever more readily to do His will. To become like Him, we need to desire that all are able and given the chance to choose to partake of His goodness for themselves.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your journey. The year is hastening on so quickly.

St Matthew 16 Reflections

The Gospel According to St. Matthew: Matthew Chapter 16: Read Here: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/16?lang=eng

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We Receive a Testimony that Jesus is the Christ through the Power of the Holy Ghost

Again the Pharisees and the Sadducees showed up asking Jesus to show them a sign from heaven.

Jesus answered saying,

“When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering, O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas” (Matt 16:2-4).

‘And He left them, and departed’ (vs. 4).

The disciples forgot to take bread with them to the other side of the sea. Jesus, referring to His encounter with the Pharisees and Sadducees said,

“Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (vs. 6).

His disciples misunderstood what He said, saying,

“It is because we have taken no bread” (vs. 7).

Jesus said to them,

“O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees”? (vs. 8-11).

After this clarification, they understood.

‘When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying,

“Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”

‘And they said,

“Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.”

‘He saith unto them,

“But whom say ye that I am?”

‘And Simon Peter answered and said,

“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

‘And Jesus answered and said unto him,

“Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

‘Then charged He his disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ’ (vs. 13- 20).

Further thoughts: Like Peter, we can all come to know that Jesus is the Christ through the power of the Holy Ghost as a gift from our Heavenly Father, as we seek to know Him, follow Him, and be obedient to His commandment. We can believe in the teachings of others, but it is only through revelation from our Heavenly Father as the Spirit speaks to our spirit that we can know.

“Through direct revelation from God Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ; and upon revelation, as a rock of secure foundation, the Church of Christ was to be built. Though torrents should fall, floods roll, winds rage, and all beat together upon that structure, it would not, could not, fall, for it was founded upon a rock; and even the powers of hell would be impotent to prevail against it. By revelation alone could or can the Church of Jesus Christ be builded and maintained; and revelation of necessity implies revelators, through whom the will of God may be made known respecting His Church. As a gift from God comes the testimony of Jesus into the heart of man” (Elder James E. Talmage, in Jesus the Christ).

Jesus then began to prepare His disciples for those things which lay ahead for Him, ‘how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day’ (vs. 21).

This would have been a very sorrowful thing for His disciples to hear. They hadn’t been with Him long, and surely they didn’t want to let Him go, nor did they fully understand the purpose of His mission yet.

Peter tried to get Jesus to stop talking that way and said,

‘“Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.”

‘But he turned, and said unto Peter,

“Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

‘Then said Jesus unto his disciples,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom”’ (vs. 22-28).

Jesus had just told Peter that after He had gone from them, Peter would hold the keys of the kingdom. It must have been concerning for Jesus that Peter responded in this manner. But the Lord went on to tell them that being true to the Father and following His will were more important things to do than preserving our own lives. Truly it is through following Them, and each of us taking up his or her own cross, that we will gain eternal life.

Further thought: Jesus needed to not only give His life to save us, but He also needed to lose His life to find it for Himself and for all of us. He has not asked us to do anything difficult which He has not already endured on our behalf.

(John the Beloved would tarry, after the others were dead, to bring souls unto Christ. There may have been others.)

St Matthew 12 Reflections

The Gospel According to St. Matthew: Matthew Chapter 12: Read Here: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/12?lang=eng

12 withered hand

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath

Although Jesus showed point-by-point that He is Lord of the Sabbath, and that it is given to Him to both eat of the field with His disciples and to heal on the Sabbath day, the Pharisees are quick to condemn Jesus: first, by holding counsel to see how they can destroy Him; later, they accused Him of being a devil; and then, they compounded their evil acts by seeking a sign from Him. (All of His teachings and healings were not signs enough for the Pharisees.)

Jesus’s disciples picked corn from a field to eat on the Sabbath Day. The Pharisees were quick to notice, because this was against the customs relating to The Law of Moses. They stated in judgment,

“Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:2).

‘But He said unto them,

“Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day”’ (vs 3-8).

Then Jesus, outside the synagogue, saw a man with a withered hand. Since it was the Sabbath day, He posed a question,  and then answered it Himself:

“Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?…

“What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep?

“Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days” (vs. 10-12).

‘Then saith he to the man,

“Stretch forth thine hand.”

‘And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other’ (vs. 13).

The Pharisees were upset that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, and they held a council to search out what they could do to destroy Jesus.

Further thoughts: Why did they want to destroy Him? Did they think Jesus was evil for doing miracles on His day? Did they not believe in Him or Who He was? Or did they envy His power, authority, and position? Did they not respect Jesus because He was young, or because His understanding was higher than theirs? Did they cleave to the old law, their law, which gave them power and authority over the people?

As the chapter continues, it still appears to be the Sabbath Day.

Jesus knew that the Pharisees sought to destroy Him, so He withdrew from there. But still, great multitudes followed after Him with their sick and afflicted, and He healed them all. He asked them not to make it known.

Further thought: Missionary work, serving our Heavenly Father, teaching the gospel, offering salvation, and healing the sick in body and spirit should never stop; and, it is especially fitting on the Sabbath Day, a day of worship, praise, and renewal.

In all these things, Isaiah’s prophecies were seeing their fulfillment in the ministry of Jesus Christ:

‘That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

“Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon Him, and He shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in His name shall the Gentiles trust”’ (vs. 17-21).

He then healed a man possessed of a devil, who was both blind and dumb; and then, he spoke and saw.

‘And all the people were amazed, and said,

“Is not this the son of David?”

‘But when the Pharisees heard it, they said,

“This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.”

‘And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them,

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I be Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad”’ (vs. 23-30).

The people who followed Jesus and saw His miracles believed in Him, and they hoped that He was their Messiah. Of course, the Pharisees again weren’t pleased and suggested that Jesus had cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of all devils.

Further thoughts: We can no more be for God and against Him at the same time than the Pharisees could be. Nor can we fight against Him and be on His side.

We can be forgiven of most sins, when we acknowledge our error, repent, seek forgiveness, and turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart. But if we blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, we cannot be forgiven of that. Even if we speak against Jesus we can be forgiven. But not so if we speak against the Holy Ghost; neither in this life or in the world to come. Why is that?

Further thought: A witness from the Holy Ghost goes beyond what we can hear or see with our natural senses. It is felt on a deeply spiritual level, as Spirit speaks to spirit.

Either something is good, or it isn’t. If Jesus was doing good works, then He is good and comes from God. We need to speak honestly.

Jesus called the Pharisees a generation of vipers.

He also tells us that we should watch the words which we speak, because we will be accountable for them. They will either justify or condemn us.

So after being reproved by the Lord, instead of acknowledging their errors, the Pharisees compounded their wrongs by asking a sign of Jesus. They wanted Him to prove who He was.

Jesus told them,

“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (vs. 39-40).

Further thought: Pray about Jesus being the Son of God; follow His commandments, and prove to yourself that they are good and bring you happiness. Do not get hung up with the record stating three days and three nights, when Jesus was resurrected on the third day after the second night. If we try to justify away the purity of the gospel because our mind notices a perceived discrepancy in a record, we will become as the Pharisees, and we will not be justified in forsaking Him. This is especially so if we have already received a witness that the gospel is true and that Jesus was and is the Son of God, and He is a God of miracles.

Jesus then told the Pharisees that Nineveh would rise in judgment against them; because, although it had been a wicked city, the people repented when Jonah taught,

“An behold, a greater than Jonas is here” (vs 41).

And another example,

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (vs. 42).

He also gave the example of a man whose house had been cleaned and swept, and he invited seven evil spirits to come dwell with him.

Further thought: Using The Law of Witnesses, Jesus showed the Pharisees that they were currently under condemnation and would remain so if they did not repent.

Then some approached Jesus saying that His mother and brethren wanted to speak with Him. He responded that all who do the will of His Father in heaven are His family: his brother, sister and mother.

St Matthew 3 Reflections

The Gospel According to St. Matthew: Matthew Chapter 3: Read Here: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/3?lang=eng

29 AofF 1

The Father was Pleased that Jesus was Baptized

What was the purpose of the Pharisees and the Sadducees in coming to the baptism of John? John certainly questioned their sincerity; and in this chapter, he tells them the requirements for baptism. Although John baptized with water, it is God who will baptize us with fire and the Holy Ghost.

When Jesus came to John to be baptized, John felt inadequate to baptize His Lord; but, Jesus insisted and said, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). When Jesus was baptized of John, a dove is seen as a witness from the Holy Ghost that John baptized the Messiah; and, God spoke from the heavens saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17)

Further thoughts:

When we follow the Spirit in doing our Heavenly Father’s will, we can also have a personal witness that Heavenly Father is pleased with us through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Not only does this chapter set forth the importance of baptism; because Jesus Christ, being completely holy, was baptized to comply with His Father’s will; it also shows that the Godhead is indeed three distinct persons, although One in unity and purpose.